The Preakness Stakes is definitely the party event of the Triple Crown. The track itself turns into a sports venue, a music festival and a fashion show all at once during the Friday and Saturday of Preakness week, and Baltimore rolls out the red carpet for visitors in town for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Because there was no racing yesterday (and we had to get the Preakness edition of the Notebook out) I didn’t get a chance to visit the four-legged stars of the show; however, the Wednesday of Preakness week includes one of my very favorite things about the second jewel of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Draw.
The Draw is when the runners in the Preakness are assigned their post positions and morning line odds for the big race, and there’s always a party surrounding it. The Preakness Draw is probably my favorite draw to go to all year, because Pimlico Race Course goes all out to provide an amazing feast and scene for its guests. Horses’ human connections mingle with media members, local celebrities and racing personalities while enjoying an amazing buffet of all sorts of delicious food.
Oh, remember how I mentioned the amazing buffet? Check out the pasta bar. That’s right, I said it: pasta bar, y’all.
If you want to check out all of the awesome things the Preakness Draw offers, this handy Vine will give you an idea of everything on tap:
Not too shabby, right?
Remember how I said that the media attends this event? I wasn’t kidding; check out the incredible numbers of TV cameras alone, and that doesn’t even begin to include the photographers and print journalists in town for the Draw.
At the Draw, the people affiliated with Preakness horses have assigned tables at the front of the room, and Preakness makes it easy for its guests to find their tables and get ready for the main event.
Presiding over the entire Draw is the Woodlawn Vase. This is the most expensive trophy in sports with a value of $1 million, and it is truly stunning to see in person. Needless to say, I want one!
Once the Preakness Draw itself was underway, things started moving very quickly. The Draw is double-blind to make sure that there’s no human interference; one official has pills numbered 1-10 (in this case) in an opaque bottle and shakes one pill out which assigns the post position. Another official randomly selects a horse’s name from a group of papers, which determines which horse is assigned to that post position.
After the post positions were announced, morning line odds are given out. These are the odds that a racetrack official estimates that a horse will go off at post time for the Preakness. It’s not a fixed thing, because in horse racing bettors play against each other instead of the House, so the odds constantly change due to how people are playing their ponies. When Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome’s morning line odds of 3-5 were announced, an audible gasp went up from the crowd. Those are very short odds indeed.
By the end of the Draw, post positions and morning line odds were up, and here’s the complete sheet for your convenience:
Right after the Draw, trainers and owners make themselves available to the press for comments. California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman was definitely the center of attention:
His wife Faye was also interviewed.
And with that, it was time for me to boogie since America’s Best Racing was throwing a Preakness party in Mount Washington Tavern with Yelp Baltimore, and I wanted to be sure to get there for the action. When I arrived (a bit early, because I am perpetually punctual) the party hadn’t started yet, and I had plenty of time to explore the tavern. Let me tell you: the place is beautiful, and the space had been decorated beautifully with black-eyed Susans, the official flower of the Preakness Stakes.
There is also a ton of horse racing memorabilia around the place; plus they serve food and alcohol there. I wonder when I can move in?
We had a ton of swag for the revelers who showed up to the event, plus some information and giveaways for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, who you can follow on Twitter here.
As people started to arrive, it was so much fun to see fans - both new and long-established in the Sport of Kings – interact with the Preakness Stakes connections who mingled with the crowd. Ride On Curlin’s trainer Billy Gowan was there:
He told me an awesome story: the Governor of Maryland bought his Ride On Curlin hat off of his head for $100 at the Preakness Draw earlier that evening! How cool is that?
I also saw Alan Sherman, who is Preakness favorite California Chrome’s assistant trainer.
I even spotted Ms. Racing Queen Linsey Toole hanging out with jockeys Nik Juarez and Grant Whitacre:
Plus, there were just a boatload of fans and friends who showed up just to have a great time. It was such a fun party, and I hope you get a chance to come out to one of our shindigs if we’re ever in your town.
With that, my Preakness Stakes Draw Day came to a finale since I had a very early morning ahead of me. Thanks as always for stopping by, and I’ll be back with all of the morning workout action coming out of Pimlico very soon!